A building (or a part of a structure) that is usually higher than its diameter and tall in relation to its surroundings. The history of tower building goes back to the time shortly after the Flood when men on the Plains of Shinar declared: “Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens.” (Ge 11:2-4) That tower is thought to have been styled along the oblique pyramid lines of the religious ziggurats discovered in that part of the earth.—See BABEL; ARCHAEOLOGY (Babylonia).
For military defense, towers were built into the walls of cities, usually with more prominent ones at the corners and flanking the gates. (2Ch 26:9; 32:5; Eze 26:4, 9; Zep 1:16; 3:6) In some instances towers served as a chain of outposts along a frontier, or as places of refuge in isolated areas for shepherds and others.—2Ch 26:10; 27:4; see FORTIFICATIONS; WATCHTOWER.
Often a tower inside the city served as a citadel. The towers of Shechem, Thebez, and Penuel were such structures. (Jg 8:9, 17; 9:46-54) Ruins of other city towers have also been found in Jericho, Beth-shan, Lachish, Megiddo, Mizpah, and Samaria.
The Hebrew term migh·dalʹ, meaning “tower” (Eze 29:10; 30:6), forms part of the name of certain places, such as Migdal-gad (meaning “Tower of Good Fortune”) and Migdal-el (meaning “Tower of God”).—Jos 15:37; 19:38.
“Siege towers” on occasion were built by the attacking armies when assaulting fortified cities. These served as elevated firing positions for archers or throwers. Also, some assault towers contained battering rams and provided protection for those operating the rams.—Isa 23:13.
Jerusalem’s Towers. The Tower of the Bake Ovens was located on the NW side of the city near or at the Corner Gate. (Ne 3:11; 12:38) Why it was so named is not certain, but quite possibly commercial bakers were present in that vicinity. It may have been one of the towers built by Uzziah, who reigned in Jerusalem from 829 to 778 B.C.E. (2Ch 26:9) Along the N wall of the city were two other important towers: The Tower of Hananel was restored and sanctified in Nehemiah’s day. (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Jer 31:38; Zec 14:10) Close by it and to the E near the Sheep Gate was the Tower of Meah. Why it was called Meah, meaning “Hundred,” is not known.—Ne 3:1; 12:39.
Along the E wall S of the temple area was what is referred to as “the protruding tower,” and still farther S, somewhere in the vicinity of David’s palace, was a tower associated with the King’s House near the Courtyard of the Guard. (Ne 3:25-27) Some think that this latter tower was the one referred to in The Song of Solomon as “the tower of David, built in courses of stone, upon which are hung a thousand shields, all the circular shields of the mighty men.” (Ca 4:4) This tower should not be confused with the more modern so-called Tower of David, which incorporates the tower of Phasael. This Phasael tower was one of the three built by Herod the Great for the protection of his new palace erected near the site of the ancient Corner Gate on the W side of the city.
The Tower in Siloam was probably in the vicinity of the pool by that name in the SE sector of Jerusalem. Jesus mentioned that this tower collapsed, killing 18 men, an event that must have been fresh in the memory of his audience.—Lu 13:4; see also ANTONIA, TOWER OF.
Figurative Use. Those who look in faith and obedience to Jehovah have great security, as David sang: “You [Jehovah] have proved to be a refuge for me, a strong tower in the face of the enemy.” (Ps 61:3) Those who recognize what his name stands for, and who trust in and faithfully represent that name, have nothing to fear, for: “The name of Jehovah is a strong tower. Into it the righteous runs and is given protection.”—Pr 18:10; compare 1Sa 17:45-47.